Category Archives: Wireless Router

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

The Synology RT1900ac delivers excellent Wi-Fi performance. It ia a great router that has lots of features and can work as a capable NAS server when hosting an external hard drive. The router is cheaper than most competing devices.

But its range on the 5GHz band is a little short, and you need an external drive to enjoy its NAS features.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

The RT1900ac is a Wi-Fi router, also it is a network-attached storage server. The fact that it’s the first router from Synology — a company that’s known for making NAS devices — probably has something to do with it.

When hosting an external hard drive connected to its USB 3.0 port, the RT1900ac is indeed a formidable storage server. And in testing, as either a Wi-Fi router or a NAS server, the device was excellent, for the most part edging out more expensive competitors, such as the Asus RT-AC68U or the Netgear R7000. It’s not perfect, however, with a relatively short range on the 5GHz band and only average network storage data rates. But at the current cost of just $150 (converted, that’s about £105 or AU$200), it’s the least expensive AC1900 router.

That said, if you want a router that delivers excellent Wi-Fi performance and can also work as a host for Time Machine backup, file sharing, media streaming and pretty much anything else you can do with a typical NAS drive, the RT1900AC is an excellent buy.

For more excellent home network router options, check out CNET’s list of best 802.11AC routers.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Hardware

As the name suggests, the RT1900AC is an AC1900 router. It has a top on-paper speed of 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. On the inside, it’s powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor and 256MB of DDR3 memory. The router has more powerful specs than the Asus RT-AC68U (which runs a dual-core 800MHz predecessor) but weaker than the Linksys WRT1900ACs (dual-core 1.3GHz.)

The router has one USB 3.0 port and one SD card slot on its left side. You can use these ports to host an external hard drive and an SD card to take advantage of the router’s storage features. Using a storage device allows you to add even more features to the router. (More on this below.) And though it’s designed to lie flat, the router can also be mounted on a wall.

Synology RT1900ac review: A great router and NAS server (in one) at an excellent price

Software

What makes the RT1900ac stand out from other AC1900 routers is its Linux-based operating system (also known as the firmware) called Synology Router Manager (SRM). This firmware is a variation of the DiskStation Manger (DSM) operating system used for all of Synology’s NAS servers. If you’ve used a Synology NAS server before, you’ll find the interface of the RT1900ac extremely familiar.

And even if you’ve never used a Synology product, the SRM is easy to figure out. The router’s interface, accessible via a browser, is very similar to that of a traditional desktop operating system, like Windows or Mac OS. In fact it’s the most comprehensive interface for a router I’ve seen, with items tied together and organized in an intuitive way.

Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200

Netgear nighthawk x10

Netgear released a new generation of wireless ADrouter – the Nighthawk X10 wireless AD7200 multi band router delivering total bandwidth of up to 7200Mbps with three distinct bands. It was powered by high end 1.7GHz dual core processor.

What this product does

You’ll be surprised how the wifi technology is evolving so fast in wireless AD based router if you haven’t taste how the speed of wireless AC router when your current aging wifi router is still based on wireless G or wireless N150 technology. Netgear Nighthawk X10 AD7200 and TP-link Talon AD7200 are both new generation of wireless routers based on the next generation of wireless 802.11AD technology.

Multi band

Nighthawk X10 is designed with the three distinct bands, like the most crowded 2.4GHz band with speed up to 800Mbps, the clean 5GHz band with the speed up to 1733Mbps and the high frequency 60GHz band.

We know that the current AC5300 routers such as Linksys EA9500 and Netgear R8500 and AC3200 routers such as TP-link Archer C3200 or Linksys EA9200, they are also three band routers, the 2.4GHz band and two separate 5GHz bands.

Up to 4600Mbps @60GHz

Routers based on wireless AD technology delivers ultra fast wifi speeds up to 4600Mbps in 60GHz band, high frequency band. The bad thing is that this 60GHz band cannot penetrate the wall, it must be in a line of sight between the router and the wifi compatible clients. So far, there are couple of clients that work in 60GHz band such as new Acer TMP648 laptop.

Aggregation Ethernet ports

Like the previous AC5300 model – the Netgear Nighthawk X8, Netgear Nighthawk X10 is also equipped with dual aggregation port to deliver 2Gbps data rate throughput. This is ideal for connecting to something like high speed NAS storage.

netgear nighthawk x10

Main features

  • Next generation of wireless AD7200 technology based on 802.11ad, 802.11ac
  • Multi band router speeds up to 4600Mbps @60GHz; up to 1733Mbps @5GHz and up to 800Mbps @2.4GHz band
  • Plex media server and Amazon drive cloud backup
  • Beamforming for 2.4GHz and 5GHz band
  • MU-MIMO ready
  • ReadyCloud and ReadyShare vault
  • 6x Gigabit LAN ports and 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Dual port aggregation
  • Powered by 1.7GHz dual core processor with 512Mbps NAND Flash and 1GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports

Many people are wondering that this model of wireless AD-based router is beneficial at a moment particularly with the 60GHz band, at least lack of the wireless client adapter based on wireless AD standard and the shortage of the range distance.

Comparison X10 Vs Talon

Talon AD7200 was introduced and released earlier than Nighthawk X10, and generally the product that comes later is featured richer than the first model. X10 is designed with richer features than Talon as you can see from the following spec comparison table.

Antennas

Talon model is similar like its TP-link Archer C5400 wireless AC5300 model, designed with eight external antennas. On the other hand, Nighthawk X10 is designed with 4x active external antennas like its predecessor model Nighthawk X8 to deliver more powerful signal strength and longer distance coverage.

Processor

Nighthawk X10 is powered by high speed 1.7GHz dual core processor as opposed to only 1.4GHz dual core processor in Talon. As comparison, you can find Linksys WRT AC3200 is powered by the fastest dual core processor – 1.8GHz dual core processor for its DD-WRT firmware router, the fastest dual band router in the market today.

Take a look at the following comparison table for easy to read spec comparison between the routers.

Table 1 Netgear Nighthawk X10 Vs TP-link Talon AD7200

Nighthawk X10 Talon AD7200
Wifi technology Wireless 802.11ad/ac Wireless 802.11ad/ac
Wifi speeds 4600Mbps @60GHz; 1733Mbps @5GHz and 800Mbps @2.4GHz 4600Mbps @60GHz; 1733Mbps @5GHz and 800Mbps @2.4GHz
Beamforming technology Yes Yes
MU-MIMO Yes Yes
Antenna 4x active external antenna4x internal antennas 8 external antennas, 1 internal antenna
Ethernet Ports 6x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port

Dual Gigabit Ethernet port aggregation

4 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports,1 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Port
USB Ports 2x USB 3.0 ports 2x USB 3.0 ports
Processor 1.7GHz dual core processor 1.4GHz dual core processor
Price $499.99 $349.95

 

Summary

Netgear Nighthawk X10 is new multi band router based on next generation wireless AD technology delivering total bandwidth of up to 7200Mbps for its three distinct bands. Compared with Talon AD7200, Nighthawk is more superior regarding the processor speed, the active antenna and dual aggregation Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Hands on: Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN review

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Our Early Verdict

To build a VPN service with a customisable router appears to be a no-brainer as they both target the same audience and in this particular case, the WRT 1200AC and ExpressVPN make a great pair.

Like pretty much every other piece of computing hardware, routers have reached a maturation peak with very little disruptive innovation now happening.

Some vendors are trying new things to differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition, often by offering fine-tuned, bespoke services.

 Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Certainly, it came as a surprise when one VPN provider, ExpressVPN, offered to send us the Linksys WRT 1200AC router with its services baked in by way of a customised firmware.

Note that in our case, the router was already preconfigured, but owners of the WRT 1200AC or the WRT 1900AC/S (the only two Linksys routers that support the native ExpressVPN option) will be able to install this particular firmware.

A couple of points here: changing the firmware of your router is not for the faint hearted and there’s a small chance that you could brick (break) your device during the process.

Doing so with a third-party firmware will invalidate your warranty although you can always go back to the original Linksys firmware.

ExpressVPN told us that, while this is the case, Linksys has done a good job to make this device a lot more reliable than anything else on the market.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Speaking of the WRT 1200AC, this is a relatively mature device that was launched well over a year ago; although the one that was sent to us is the v2 incarnation.

You can nab it for as little as £102 (around $125, AU$165) including delivery from online retailer Ballicom

Those who have used the now legendary WRT 54xx series will recognise the device’s blue-black colour scheme. The WRT 1200AC is the heir to that line with some pretty bold lines and a futuristic design.

There are plenty of holes in its enclosure, a sign that the hardware inside may well get warm under near-constant use. As expected, it sits comfortably on four big plastic feet and carries two detachable antennas at the back.

As with the vast majority of routers on the market, there are plenty of status lights up front (11 in all), a lot of ports at the back, and all the admin details about the router are on its base.

Overall, the 1200AC has a very solid feel to it with an air of nostalgia; it won’t wobble or fall off a flat surface thanks to a low centre of gravity.

The original router had 256MB of RAM while the new version 2 we evaluated doubles that to 512MB. There’s still a Marvel 88F6820 ARM system-on-chip at its heart, a dual-core model clocked at 1.3GHz. It has a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 900Mbps on 5GHz; you can of course use both at the same time, depending on your devices.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

Note that the WRT 1200AC incorporates beam forming technology which means that it can focus its wireless signals on devices connected to it.

At the back of the router you’ll find a switch, a reset button, a power connector, one USB 3.0 port, one eSATA/USB 2.0 connector and four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

You must have an ExpressVPN subscription for the VPN to work, something that can cost you as little as $99.99 (around £80, AU$135) for a year. You’ll need to enter your 23-digit activation code to use the router, and the VPN service will work on all the devices connected to it.

You will not need a subscription to use the router if you do not plan to use the VPN service, but presumably if you’re buying this product, you’re doing so for the bundled VPN. Still, if you change your mind down the line, the hardware will still work without the subscription.

Linksys also encourages you to register for its free Smart Wi-Fi service which allows you to monitor and manage your router using a mobile app from anywhere in the world. Very useful if you want to reset or troubleshoot when you’re not physically near the device.

The router’s user interface is well laid-out with some clear options that even include a speed test feature, one which connects with the popular Speednet service. You can configure the modem to run on OpenWRT or DD-WRT, two popular alternative router operating systems.

Linksys WRT 1200AC with ExpressVPN

This, however, would require you to get rid of the ExpressVPN firmware (which is itself a customised version of OpenWRT).

While ExpressVPN usually enforces a limit of three simultaneous connections per account, that limit doesn’t hold for this router, and as we mentioned earlier, you can connect as many devices as your broadband can support, a real boon for households with loads of devices.

It’s worth noting that the only type of split tunnelling support is VPN (single location) or No VPN. Individual devices cannot have individual servers.

Users can select which devices they want to connect through the VPN, and which devices they do not want to be protected.

Connecting the router to our existing Virgin Media Superhub 2ac directly (without switching on the router mode) worked, with the WRT 1200AC consistently providing a better browsing experience than Virgin Media’s bundled router.

Early verdict

There are two parts to this verdict. The first pertains to the router itself which is a decent model that delivers a strong showing in terms of transfer rate and stability.

The user interface and the free mobile app are a welcome change from what you usually get with the router bundled with your broadband line. Sure, it doesn’t have features like MU-MIMO or triple band but then again, it is a £102 (around $125, AU$165) router and one of the cheaper AC1200 models.

And secondly, as for the ExpressVPN option, it is unfortunately a flawed one as it invalidates the hardware’s warranty (as confirmed by Linksys). If you’re happy to take this risk, there’s one incentive and that’s the fact that everything is done transparently.

Experienced users can always install VPN clients on their own devices and swap between providers as they see fit, either because features have evolved or they feel they could get better value-for-money elsewhere.

Linksys WRT AC3200 Three Stream 160Mhz Technology

Linksys WRT AC3200 dual band router

Recently,Linksys introduces new wireless two band router WRT AC3200 with three stream 160 technology delivering speeds up to 2600Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band. This product is the fastest two band router with open-source firmware DD-WRT and OpenWrt.

What this product does

The first generation of wireless three band routers (wireless AC3200 routers such as Linksys EA9200 router or TP-link Archer AC3200) deliver total bandwidth of up to 3200Mbps and most people perception when they notice AC3200 router would be this model of three band router. People might be familiar with wireless AC3100 router as the two band AC router such as Asus RT-AC88 AC3100 router.

3x stream 160

Now when you notice that Linksys WRT-AC3200 router is the first generation of three band AC3200 router is wrong. WRT-AC3200 is a two band router with new three stream 160 technology delivering speeds of up to 2600Mbps @5GHz band and up to 600Mbps @2.4GHz band.

The first AC flagship in DD-WRT Open source firmware i.e. Linksys WRT 1900AC and Linksys WRT 1900ACS which both use the same three stream of 80MHz delivering speed up to 3x433Mbps (1300Mbps) @5GHz band, the latest Linksys WRT-AC3200 uses new three stream 160Mhz delivering speed up to 3x867Mbps (2.6Gbps). Three stream 160 technology provides bandwidth twice as much as traditional three stream 80Mhz technology.

Fastest router @5GHz

With speed of 2600Mbps @5GHz band, Linksys WRT AC3200 router will be the fastest router @5GHz band so far. You can mention that wireless AC5400 routers such as Linksys EA9500 AC5400 router, or TP-link Archer C5400 deliver speed of 2166Mbps @5GHz band. And even Talon AD7200 delivers speed of 1700Mbps @5GHz band, however Talon introduces new 60GHz band with speed of 4600Mbps if the client is at line of sight with the router, no obstacles.

In a nutshell, Linksys WRT AC3200 router is the fastest router @5GHz band so far.

linksys wrt ac3200

Linksys WRT AC3200 dual band router

Highlights

  • Dual band wireless router with three stream 160 technology
  • MU-MIMO for fast connection to multiple devices concurrently
  • 4x dual band external antennas
  • DD-WRT and OpenWRT open source firmware for flexible customizable
  • Smart-Wifi app for easy network management via your mobile devices
  • Powered by high performance 1.8GHz dual core processor with 256MB flash and 512MB RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet ports for 4x LAN and 1x WAN ports
  • 1x USB 3.0 port and 1x combo USB 2.0 / eSATA

 

Will this product be successful in the market and make users change their mind to choose this fastest router instead of wireless AC3200 or AC5400 three band routers? We’ll see.

Comparison

Lots of most popular wireless router with high customer rating in the market including Netgear Nighthawk X6 in AC3200 network segment and Asus RT-AC5300 router you may compare with Linksys WRT AC3200 router.

Take a look at the following spec comparison tables. Table 1 shows you spec comparison between Linksys WRT AC3200 and Netgear Nighthawk X6 AC3200 router. while table 2 shows you spec comparison between Linksys WRT AC3200 and Asus RT-AC5300 router.

Wifi technology

All the three routers represent different wifi technologies. Linksys WRT AC3200 router is designed with the three stream 160Mhz technology to produce the fastest wifi speed @5GHz band. Nighthawk X6 represents three band router with three stream 80Mhz technology. While Asus RT-AC5300 router represents three band routers with four stream technology and Broadcom NitroQAMTM technology to boost the speeds.

The other features are general something like number of LAN gigabit ports, USB ports, Beamforming and still more.

Table 1 Linksys WRT AC3200 Vs Nighthawk X6

Linksys WRT AC3200 Nighthawk X6
Wifi technology AC3200 dual band3 stream 160Mhz technology AC3200 three band3 stream 80Mhz technology
# bands Dual band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band Three band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band-1; 5GHz-band-2
Speeds 2600Mbps @5GHz600Mbps @2.4GHz 2x 1300Mbps @ 5GHz band-1 and band-2600Mbps @2.4GHz
MU-MIMO Yes No
Beamforming Yes Yes
Open source DD-WRTOpen WRT N/A
Ethernet Ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 / eSATA combo 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 port
Processor 1.8GHz dual core processor256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory 1GHz dual core processor
Price (Oct 2016 in Amazon) $279.99 $254.90

 

Table 1 Linksys WRT AC3200 Vs Asus RT-AC5300

Linksys WRT AC3200 Asus RT-AC5300
Wifi technology AC3200 dual band3 stream 160Mhz technology AC5300 three band4×4 Broadcom NitroQAMTM technology
# bands Dual band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band Three band2.4GHz band; 5GHz band-1; 5GHz-band-2
Speeds 2600Mbps @5GHz600Mbps @2.4GHz 2x 2167Mbps @ 5GHz band-1 and band-21000Mbps @2.4GHz
MU-MIMO Yes Yes, with Smart Connect technology
Beamforming Yes Yes
Open source DD-WRTOpen WRT N/A
Ethernet Ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports 1x Gigabit WAN port4x Gigabit LAN ports
USB Ports 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 / eSATA combo 1x USB 3.0 port1x USB 2.0 port
Processor 1.8GHz dual core processor256MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory 1.4GHz dual core processor128MB Flash and 512MB of RAM Memory
Price (Oct 2016 in Amazon) $279.99 $369.90

 

Summary

Linksys WRT AC3200 is the fastest dual band router with three stream 160MHz technology to deliver the fastest 2600Mbps speed @5GHz band. This router is designed with open source DD-WRT firmware.

What is Google Wifi? Google Wifi UK release date, price, features and specifications

google wifi

If you’ve ever played around with Powerline and Wi-Fi extenders in an effort to make your wireless signal reach all the way through your home, new Google Wifi is the product for you. Here we explain what is Google Wifi and why you want it, plus outline the Google Wifi UK release date, price, features and specifications.

google wifi
What is Google Wifi? Google Wifi features

Built on the strengths of OnHub, Google Wifi is in essence a series of mini wireless routers that all talk to each other and can be scattered across the home to ensure a strong and fast wireless signal in every room.

Google designed Wifi to be able to support multiple devices at once, and to withstand high-bandwidth activities such as streaming video and gaming.

You can buy Google Wifi points in packs of one or three, enabling you to keep adding to your setup if you have a large home. Google recommends using one point in a small house or flat measuring between 500- and 1500 square feet, two in a medium house measuring between 1500- and 3000 square feet, and three in a large home between 3000- and 4500 square feet.

Google Wifi uses mesh Wi-Fi, with each Google Wifi point creating a high-powered connection and able to determine the best path for your data. Other alternatives include Powerline, which uses the electrical wiring in your home to create a simple but fast, wired network that connects adapters in rooms away from your Internet router; see our Best Powerline Adapter round up and What is Powerline feature.

google wifi

If you want manual options they are available through a companion app for Android and iOS, but for those who don’t Network Assist technology takes the hard work out of optimising your router basically by doing it for you. It will ensure your Wi-Fi is operating on the clearest channel, and it will continue to optimise your Wi-Fi no matter which room of the house you are in. Network Assist can even tell you where best to place a Google Wifi point or advise you to adjust your broadband tariff.

A cool feature of Google Wifi is that at any point you can pause the Wi-Fi connection on a given connected device, such as the kids’ tablets when you want them to come down for dinner. You can also see how much bandwidth these devices are using and prioritise particular devices over others.

Google Wifi supports wireless encryption, verified boot and auto updates, keeping security and user privacy as high priorities.
Google Wifi UK release date, price: When is Google Wifi coming out?

The Google Wifi UK release date has not yet been confirmed, though we were told at the launch that Google hoped it would be coming soon. In the US Google Wifi is available to pre-order from November, and will cost $129 for a single pack and $299 for a pack of three.

google wifi

When available, you’ll be able to pre-order Google Wifi here.

We discussed the Google event right after it happened on our podcast. Listen here:

Google Wifi specifications Connectivity

• AC1200 2×2 Wave 2 Wi-Fi

• Expandable mesh Wi-Fi

• Simultaneous dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz) supporting 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

• TX Beamforming

• Bluetooth Smart Ready

• 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports per point (can be configured as WAN or LAN)
Security

• WPA2-PSK

• Automatic security updates

• Infineon SLB 9615 trusted platform module

Google Wifi Core hardware

• 710MHz Quad-core processor

• 512MB DDR3L RAM

• 4GB eMMC flash storage

• 15W power adaptor
Device

• White plastic build

• 106.12×68.75mm

• 340g

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

It takes you a few days to restart a router wirelessly and depend on your setup and router.

The two main ways are to use a smartphone / computer or setup a remote switch.

It all depends on what type of setup you need as to the best way, so lets look at the two most common methods.

Using a Smartphone or Computer
Every router has a reboot tab in the software setting that simply requires logging in and clicking reboot.

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router


Each router also has a unique setup menu so looking through the setting or Googling the tab will be necessary.

To get to the login page a Browser is used, on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and the internal IP Address is typed into the address bar.

To log into the router the Internal IP address is needed along with the username and password.

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router


In this example internal IP address for the router is “192.168.1.1” and the Username: Admin, Password: Admin.

There is always a default username and password which is often labeled on a router, or it can be looked up online by the name and model number.

The only time it is not default is if it has been changed during setup.

Using a Remote Switch

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router
Remote switches are low cost items that come in a variety of packages that can power off and on and device wirelessly.


They are simple devices that plug into a outlet and after a electronic device is plugged in can be controlled with a wireless remote or app.

Remote switch with remote control on Amazon

How to Wirelessly Restart Reboot a Router

 


Many use a wireless switches since they cheap, simple, and are effective in getting the job done.

Besides a remote control units there is also smartphone models that use Bluetooth or connect to your wireless network and can be used anywhere.

The Bluetooth units are cheaper than WiFi units, but only can work with-in 10-15 feet range, while a WiFi switch can work anywhere your phone is online.

It all depend on your setup as to which is the best. If you are close to the router and need to reset it occasionally than a Bluetooth unit would be fine. If any distance is needed than a WiFi model would be better.

WiFi Remote Switch on Amazon

WiFi Remote Switch on Amazon


Summary
The above methods are the two most common but there are other options in some cases.

For example your router manufacture may have built-in a remote reboot feature into the router and already have a app that simply needs to be downloaded. This is not common but some higher-end routers have this feature.

There are some mods for some routers such as DD-WRT and Tomato that can give them much more functionality including remote login via SHH, Telnet, or VPN.

If you know exactly when a router needs to be restarted some have the option to setup a restart scheduled in settings.

There is no doubt more ways to reset a router without having to physically press the button.

Netgear, is now on board with their own system: provides some big-time competition for those two companies

One of the market leaders in that space, Netgear, is now on board with their own system, which not only validates the concept provided by eero and Luma, but now provides some big-time competition for those two companies.

The devices come pre-paired together, so there’s no need to go through a setup process indicating which one is used for which scenario (the ‘router’ label connects to the broadband device, and the ‘satellite’ unit goes in the other part of the house – Netgear recommends putting it as close to the ‘center’ of the house as possible).Netgear yesterday announced its Orbi WiFi System ($399.99, available in September), a two-device system consisting of a “router” and “satellite” that customers can connect to their broadband modem (cable, DSL or other connection).

Over the past few weeks I’ve written about Wi-Fi startups eero and Luma and how their new wireless mesh systems are changing the home network wireless market with easier setup and larger coverage than compared with traditional Wi-Fi routers and range extenders.

 

Netgear Orbi router satellite NETGEAR
The Orbi system from Netgear includes a pre-paired and labeled ‘router’ and ‘satellite’ device.

 Netgear officials say this method provides for higher bandwidth (it uses about 1.7Gbps of that frequency band) than other wireless mesh systems, especially when more client devices (tablets, phones, TVs, etc.) are all competing for wireless network access.The Orbi system utilizes so-called “Tri-band Wi-Fi”, taking one of the bands within the 5 GHz frequency to provide a dedicated channel between the router device and the satellite.

Other technical details of the Orbi system include:

* Coverage up to 4,000 square feet

* A single Wi-Fi network name (SSID) for the entire network – 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (other routers include separate names for those bands)

* Four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a single USB 2.0 port on the back of the ‘router’ and ‘satellite’ units.

* Advanced router features, including  IPv6 support, dynamic DNS, port forwarding and parental controls.

* Security support for 64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA-2 PSK and WPA/WPA-2 Enterprise.

Once I get my hands on a couple of the Orbi devices I’ll let you know how it compares with the eero and Luma. When I talked with Netgear about the system, I was encouraged that setup can be done via a browser in addition to the smartphone/tablet app, as old fogies like me still prefer doing setup via their notebook. In addition, the ability to tweak advanced settings is something that older guys like me (or network pros) would appreciate.

Synology Router RT1900ac :An Easy To Set Up Router With Lots Of Advanced Features

synology_rt1900ac

The company isn’t renowned for eye-grabbing design, but in an age of ever flashier-looking routers, Synology’s simply-named RT1900ac sticks with a plain black plastic casing.Synology is best known for its excellent range of NAS devices, so it was a surprise to see it launch a router.

 There’s no version with a built-in ADSL modem, so ADSL and cable customers alike will have to plug their existing modem into the WAN port.The only touch of aesthetic originality, and a very mild one at that, is the pair of fixed feet at the back, which raise the router up by a few centimetres.

Bear in mind that, like most routers, the RT1900ac generates a fair amount of heat, so you’ll want to keep in a well-ventilated area.Bafflingly, there’s a button alongside the WPS button for turning off the Wi-Fi without turning off the router itself.

As expected for a Synology product, the RT1900ac is very easy to set up. Once physically plugged into your home network, a visit to router.synology.com in your browser on a networked PC will guide through a simple web-based setup wizard. It wisely prompts you to protect it with a unique username and administrator password, unlike many routers which don’t prompt you to change the defaults. It also prompts you to choose a SSID and password, so your wireless network will be protected from the start.

Synology Router RT1900ac web interface

^ Synology’s simple web interface is a pleasure to use

Like Synology’s NAS devices, the RT1900ac is very straightforward to customise, as its web administration interface resembles a PC’s with icons, a taskbar and a desktop. You can even create shortcuts for frequently-used settings on the desktop. All the features you’d expect are present, including port forwarding, IPv6 support, a DMZ, the ability to set up a guest network and MAC address filtering.

There’s support for a huge range of Dynamic DNS services, including Synology’s own, which is free. Anxious mums and dads will appreciate the parental controls, which are extensive and surprisingly easy to set up – you can make whitelists and blacklists, and schedule what times of day each device can access the internet.

An alternative to the web interface is the app for iOS and Android. It doesn’t have anywhere close to the full range of features available in the web interface, but it works well for quickly changing parental controls or checking the various security settings.

As expected from a NAS maker, you can plug in a USB disk or SD card and share files amongst all your networked computers – effectively creating a NAS on the cheap. It works exactly like a Synology NAS, which also means you get a range of extra features you can add from Synology’s app store. Whether you want to stream media, host a blog or run a VPN server, there’s probably an app for it. The USB port can also be used to share a printer amongst all your networked computers, or use a 3G or 4G dongle as a fall-back connection.

All of this would be for naught though if the RT1900ac’s range and performance aren’t up to scratch. Sadly, this is where Synology’s router comes up a little short. When used with our laptop and its built-in 802.11n Intel adapter, it managed 45.8Mbit/s at 10m and 33.7Mbit/s at 25m. These 2.4GHz scores are good. On the 5GHz band, it initially did very well with 149.1Mbit/s at 10m. But it then fell to a disappointing but still usable 42.8Mbit/s at 25m.

Synology doesn’t produce its own 802.11ac adapter, so I used Tenda’s W900U USB adapter to test 802.11ac speeds instead. At 10m it managed 146.8Mbit/s and 111Mbit/s at 25m. Although somewhat disappointing for an 802.11ac router, the decrease in performance when moving from 10m to 25m was at least relatively small. Only moving to 35m away, with several large metal cupboards in the way, I lost the signal entirely.

I’m looking forward to Synology’s future routers purely because of the slick, easy to use interface and abundance of advanced features. The app support and ability to turn it into a basic NAS is incredibly useful if you’ve never had one before, and if you have an old USB hard disk or SD card lying around it’s significantly cheaper than buying a dedicated NAS device.

Unless these factors are absolutely paramount, however, the RT1900ac’s somewhat inconsistent performance at long range could be a problem for anyone looking to create a large wireless network. At £118, I’d rather have the similarly priced TP-Link Archer C9. Its interface isn’t anywhere as slick, but it has far superior performance.

FCC settlement with Wi-Fi router maker a win for open source advocates

“The Commission’s equipment rules strike a careful balance of spurring innovation while protecting against harmful interference,” said Travis LeBlanc, Chief of the Enforcement Bureau, in a statement.  “While manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers must ensure reasonable safeguards to protect radio parameters, users are otherwise free to customize their routers and we support TP-Link’s commitment to work with the open-source community and Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers to enable third-party firmware on TP-Link routers.”

The FCC and TP-Link have agreed to a creative settlement that slaps the home and SMB Wi-Fi router maker with a $200K fine for violating wireless emission rules, but also requires the vendor to work with the open source community and chipset makers to allow modification of TP-Link devices.

UPDATE (8/8/16): It reads in part: “The recently executed Consent Decree between TP-Link and the FCC is strictly related to FCC power-level restrictions. While TP-Link products that were shipped/in market met FCC power levels, there was a potential that customers who changed their router settings could unintentionally manipulate power levels outside of mandated FCC regulations. TP-Link issued an Aug. 5 statement about the consent decree on its website and updated its FAQ for open source firmware. Compliant firmware was made available via the company’s website in late 2015, which we encourage customers to download and update their routers.”

The FCC last year angered those who like to install third-party firmware on their Wi-Fi routers when it proposed a rule requiring vendors to design their 5GHz radio devices in such a way that their power levels would not create interference. In fact, the FCC issued a clarification titled “Clearing the Air on Wi-Fi Software Updates” last November in response to complaints, such as from a Save WiFi campaign that popped up.

While the FCC did not force vendors to completely lock down their devices, some vendors – including TP-Link – decided to do so. Others, such as Linksys and Asus said they would work to support third-party firmware, enabling modders to extend the range of their routers or add other capabilities enabled by technologies such as OpenWrt.

In fining TP-Link, the Enforcement Bureau cited the company for marketing certain Wi-Fi routers in the U.S. with a user setting that violated Section 15.15(b) of the FCC’s rules. TP-Link has agreed to nix sales of noncompliant models and build new models in compliance.

But it’s the requirement that TP-Link work with the open source community and chipset makers that stands out in this settlement.

Latest Wireless routers Asus RT-N66U Dual Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router

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It provides 2.4GHz- and 5GHz-band Wi-Fi concurrently, allowing each user to choose the best connection for them. It’s worth noting that the RT-N66U is a Cable router, meaning you’ll need to use a separate cable or fibre modem to get an internet connection.The Asus RT-N66U is a dual-band Wi-Fi router with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB ports that let you share attached USB drives and printers across your network.

This router is limited to only up to 450Mbit/s according to Asus. This might only be a limitation if you have particularly fast internet or need to transfer data across your network, such as streaming HD or 4K content from a NAS.As the router is a few years old, it also only supports up to 802.11n, rather than the newer 802.11ac, which allows for much faster throughput speeds.

You can even choose different methods of connecting to the internet, such as with a 3G modem, should your main connection fail.We had no problems setting up the RT-N66U and were quickly able to surf the web and connect to our other computers.  The RT-N66U’s web interface is as dark as the unit itself, but it’s pretty well organised, although it will take some time before you’re familiar with the locations of all the options.
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Aside from its three external antennae, it’s a relatively inobtrusive-looking router. The chequered pattern on the top is attractive and it’s nice and low-profile. You can either lie it flat or prop it upright with its stand.

To test its Wi-Fi performance, we connected to it using the 2.4GHz band and our laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor. We achieved data transfer speeds of 42Mbit/s at one metre, 42.6Mbit/s at 10 metres and 20.7Mbit/s at 25 metres. These are similar scores to those achieved by the TP-Link WDR4300 Dual Band Wireless Router and are decent speeds. When we used the 2.4GHz band with the Asus USB-N53 Wi-Fi adaptor (£24, www.cclonline.com) we achieved scores of 69.9Mbit/s at one metre, 68.1Mbit/s at 10 metres and 22.4Mbit/s at 25 metres.

When we used the less-congested 5GHz band with our laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adaptor we achieved data transfer speeds of 93.2Mbit/s at one metre, 83.9Mbit/s at 10 metres and 10.3Mbit/s at 25 metres. The 25-metre speed is disappointing, especially in comparison to the TL-WDR4300’s 35.5Mbit/s speed under the same conditions, but the former speeds are still quick.

When we used the 5GHz band and the Asus USB-N53 we achieved data transfer rates of 118.4Mbit/s at one metre, 114.8Mbit/s at 10 metres and 41.9Mbit/s at 25 metres. These are great speeds, especially the 25-metre speed, especially if you want to stream high-definition media from your NAS or another PC.
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You can print to a USB printer using the included EZ Printer utility or networking it in Windows using the LPR protocol. The web interface includes a link to instructions that guide you through setting up the latter connection. We had no problems using either method to print to our Brother HL-5450DN laser printer.

The RT-N66U also has a Built-in media server from which you can stream videos and music from attached USB devices.

The Asus RT-N66U is a reasonable router but it’s showing its age. Nowadays, there are far better options available, including the TP-Link Archer C9, which is our Best Buy award winning cable router. It has significantly faster throughput speeds through 802.11ac and excellent wireless range and is available for around the same price as the Asus RT-N66U, making it a no-brainer.